Red Cross needs disaster assistance

If you work for or volunteer for the American Red Cross you might want to lay low if you are in Southeast Texas. I was just listening to local talk radio station KLVI-AM here in Beaumont and listeners are very hostile toward the ARC.

Some local officials here — where Hurricane Rita took a big bite out of our collective arses — feel the Red Cross has been too slow in responding. The ARC finally responded today by setting up various centers where people can go to apply for financial assistance. But in some cases the Red Cross has reportedly not shown up or responded in a bizarre fashion such as coming with about 40 debit cards where a crowd of 1,000 folks or more was on hand.

Overworked, overextended, overtaxed by first Katrina and now Rita, you might give as a defense? Perhaps, it is a volunteer organization but one that raises tons of money. So much money, in fact, that other charities have complained the Red Cross is undercutting their efforts to raise funds for hurricane victims.

Clearly, the ARC’s response is a little like a Cub Scout troop showing up for battle against the 82nd Airborne Division. Okay, I didn’t mean to slight the Cubs, of which I was one eons ago. But you get my drift.

The ARC is generally held in high esteem, but not by all. If you talk to a lot of the old World War II veterans who are left out there, they will practically spit at the mention of the Red Cross. I have heard tale after tale from people who were in a war zone in which the Red Cross showed up with a canteen full of donuts and coffee for the GI’s. Of course, the GI’s had to pay for the coffee and donuts. I don’t know if that is true but have no reason to doubt since I have heard it from so many old-timers.

I wouldn’t be able to qualify for Red Cross assistance under my circumstances. And I wouldn’t apply. But it sounds like a lot of people who really need the ARC’s help in my area are not receiving it. It also sounds like the Red Cross needs some assistance of its own. Physician, heal thy self!

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